- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the SEC Power Rankings have a familiar look:
1. Auburn: It doesn’t really matter how many points you score on Auburn or how many yards the Tigers (11-0, 7-0) give up in the passing game, because they’re going to score more and gain more. More importantly, they’re going to win the fourth quarter. That's just the way they roll. The Tigers are off this week after taking down Georgia 49-31 this past Saturday and clinching the Western Division championship. They travel to Alabama on Nov. 26.
2. LSU: The Tigers (9-1, 5-1) are playing their best football of the season and are bearing down on an at-large berth in a BCS bowl. That’s the goal now that a trip to the SEC championship game is out of the question. They pummeled Louisiana-Monroe 51-0 last week and close with Ole Miss at home and Arkansas in Little Rock. Nobody in the league has played better defense than the Tigers this season.
3. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-2) came out swinging against Mississippi State and put the Bulldogs away early in a 30-10 win. It was a big win for Alabama for a lot of reasons and served notice that the Crimson Tide aren’t just going to close up shop because they’re no longer playing for a championship. They face Georgia State at home this Thursday night and then the big one against Auburn on Nov. 26.
4. Arkansas: The Hogs (8-2, 4-2) are another one of those teams that seems to be hitting its stride here toward the end of the season. They’ve won four straight games, including a 58-21 trouncing of UTEP last week. The big difference with Arkansas this season is that the defense is also playing winning football. The Hogs travel to Mississippi State on Saturday and then face LSU in Little Rock. They have their eyes set on 10 regular-season wins.
5. South Carolina: We now introduce you to the Eastern Division champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier’s club rebounded from a listless loss at home to Arkansas to pounded an equally listless Florida team 36-14 Saturday at the Swamp. The Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3) were better than the Gators in every phase and will get a second shot at Auburn on Dec. 4 in the SEC championship game.
6. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) had their six-game winning streak snapped Saturday by Alabama. It had been a long two weeks for them, and it was an equally long game for them in Tuscaloosa. No doubt emotionally spent, they fell behind early and simply aren’t built to play from behind and have to throw the ball. They return home to face Arkansas this Saturday in a key game for both clubs.
7. Florida: Florida coach Urban Meyer has some tough decisions to make after watching the Gators (6-4, 4-4) go belly-up offensively Saturday in a 36-14 home loss to South Carolina. Clearly, something has to change on offense. The Gators aren’t just inconsistent on offense. They’re downright putrid, and now they’ve lost three straight games at the Swamp, the first time that’s happened since 1986. It could still get worse. They have to play at Florida State to end the season. That’s after Appalachian State comes to town this weekend.
8. Georgia: In fairness, the Bulldogs (5-6, 3-5) are probably better than what their record suggests. They stood toe-to-toe with Auburn before falling 49-31, but just haven’t been good enough defensively this season to secure any quality wins. Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray has been a warrior. The Bulldogs get a week off and then it’s a home game against Georgia Tech to determine whether or not they keep alive their 13-year bowl streak.
9. Kentucky: The Wildcats (6-5, 2-5) get a much-needed break this week after waking up in the second half and racing past Vanderbilt for a 38-20 win. In doing so, they locked up a fifth straight bowl trip. Randall Cobb was again sensational with a career-high 170 rushing yards, and senior quarterback Mike Hartline went out in style in his final home game. The Wildcats end the regular season in two weeks at Tennessee.
10. Tennessee: The Vols (4-6, 1-5) continue to inch their way up the SEC Power Rankings, and while they’re beating up on bad teams, they’re still showing obvious improvement. Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray threw three more touchdown passes last week in a 52-14 rout of Ole Miss, the Vols’ first SEC win of the season. They get a chance to make it two in a row Saturday at Vanderbilt.
11. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (2-8, 1-6) moved up a spot because of Ole Miss’ ineptitude and not so much anything they did, although they did play Kentucky close for a half before losing 38-20. With so many players missing because of injuries, it’s difficult for Vanderbilt to put four quarters together. That was the case last week against the Wildcats. The Commodores will try again Saturday when Tennessee comes to Nashville.
12. Ole Miss: There’s no getting around Ole Miss’ embarrassing performance Saturday in a 52-14 loss to Tennessee, and it’s the reason the Rebels (4-6, 1-5) find themselves back in the cellar this week. This is a team that’s been outscored 45-0 in the first quarter in its three SEC road games this season. And while Ole Miss does have two more wins overall than Vanderbilt, the Rebels also lost by two touchdowns at home to the Commodores.
16hDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff
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